This afternoon, while I was in the supermarket, I saw the lady who used to do my father’s in-home care until he moved into residential care in May.
We started charting, and it became evident that she didn’t know the details of his passing in June. Somewhat surprised by that, I told her of his decline over the last few days of his life, and of my honour and privilege in holding him in my arms as he died.
As the conversation wound down, I thanked her again for taking care of Dad, and for taking the time to stop and chat with me about him. We both blinked back tears, and then we parted ways.
I had held my emotions together while we were talking, but had a bit of a cry to myself in the otherwise empty pet supplies aisle a couple of rows over. I told myself I should not feel silly, nor should I try to hide my feelings. It had been a while since I’d had a cry, and it was probably healthy to let it go.
Still, standing among the bags of cat and dog food and kitty litter in the supermarket probably wasn’t the best place for it.
I thought I had got away with out anyone else noticing, but a lovely young man who worked in the store approached me and asked if I were okay. I told him I would be, I just needed to pull myself together. I managed a weak smile, hoping it would be enough to reassure him.
He smiled back and handed me a little purse pack of Kleenex. I realise that may not sound like much, but it was an act of kindness that brightened an otherwise miserable moment, and one for which I am very thankful.
I’m also thankful for the reminder that it doesn’t always take much to make a difference in someone’s day.
As the popular saying goes, “in a world where you can be anything you want to be… be kind.”
It occurred to me as I was writing this post that this is the second time in recent months that I’ve been surprised by the kindness of a young person when they’ve seen my tears. That thought made me smile again.
A Little Kindness #kindness #ChooseKindness #KindnessMatters
Tonight, I am contemplating — somewhat anxiously — what tomorrow will bring. That’s fairly standard territory the night before returning to school for a new term, but right now it’s even more complicated than usual.
Phrases like “back into routine” and “good to keep busy” have been bandied about altogether too casually by people who don’t understand how I feel. In one sense, things may seem as though they are “returning to normal”, but I don’t feel that way at all. Instead, it feels very much like I’m stepping into the vast unknown.
The world out there is anything but normal.
The state in which I live ihas been cut off from the rest of the country by border restrictions because of the COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne. We’ve all been quarantined to an extent, and Melbourne itself is locked down much tighter than we are out here in the western region of the state.
The distance between us and Melbourne is no room for complacency, though. Just today we heard the news that Warrnambool, the regional city in which I work, has reported its first active case in months. It’s sobering news, and terrible timing for the beginning of a new school term. Honestly, it just adds a greater sense of impending doom to the craziness that is going on out there.
I’m keen to see my students, though. My hope is that they will take my mind off things through each school day and keep me motivated when I’m feeling low.
So, I’ve invested in masks and extra sanitiser. I even have sprays to disinfect any work the kids hand in. I will be even more conscientious and deliberate about social distancing, because I don’t trust other people to do the right things. At least my natural cynicism about human nature is intac which, I suppose, is something.
Life isn’t ‘normal’ on a personal level either.
I miss Dad. I miss Helen. Enormously.
I have lost two of the constant, consistent encouragers in my life. I keep thinking of things I want to tell them, and photos I want to show them, and I can’t. I want them to know about my new great-nephew. I want to tell them I love them. It’s really, really hard.
I’m trying to work through my grief, but that isn’t going to happen according to any timetable. That’s a process that will take as much time as it will take.
The past three weeks have changed me, although I can’t define exactly how.
I feel like I should be more resilient, or better at handling things, or at least better at faking an appearance of being able to manage, but I’m not.
I feel like I should look different somehow, but I probably don’t.
That is, of course, if you don’t look too closely at the dark circles under my eyes. Sleep has been evasive ever since Dad was admitted to hospital with coronary issues on June 16. During the week in which both he and Helen passed away, I barely slept at all. Last night I managed seven hours, but it was in two instalments with an hour off at half time. It’s no wonder I feel like rubbish.
My purpose in expressing my thoughts and feelings here is not to moan or whine. I know I am not the only person experiencing these things. I am not the only person experiencing grief, or lugging emotional baggage everywhere.
I want others in similar situations to understand that there is nothing wrong with feeling the way they do. All of this is part of the grieving process, and it’s crucial to be kind and patient with ourselves while we sort our various burdens out.
I want other people to understand that they can’t expect people who are grieving, or anxious, or caring any other kind of burden for that matter, to feel a certain way or simply “get over things” in any set period of time.
Grief is not a tidy and well-organised domain. Everyone experiences it differently. It brings with it a whole variety of secondary emotions that are unpredictable at best. Denying it, suppressing it, or trying to make our grief fit preconceived expectations are futile and unhealthy ways of dealing with it.
That means each of us has to deal with it in our own time, and each of us can expect to be as messy as our grief. Each of us will, at some point, have to step out into a world that has changed significantly and irreversibly.
Acceptance, kindness, patience and self-care will help to make that a healthier process for everyone.
Stepping Back Into A Changed World #grief #emotions #anxiety #personal #blogpost
The Australian federal and state governments are, like those all over the world, currently considering how to phase the country out of strict social isolation and start getting back to business. All we know for sure at this point is that it will happen in stages, with the strictest rules being relaxed first. Each state will decide when to implement each stage.
As states roll back some of the social restrictions we’ve been living under, there are a few key things we must all remember.
Easing restrictions doesn’t mean the virus is gone. It means that the levels of infection in the community are low enough that the hospitals will have capacity for anyone sick enough to need a bed and a ventilator.
We will still have to socially distance for the foreseeable future. That’s probably not an entirely bad thing.
Hygiene will still matter. In fact, hygiene has always mattered. I have often marvelled that is 2020, despite how sophisticated and advanced we may think we are, it has been necessary to tell people to wash their hands and not to cough or spit on people.
People matter more than convenience or entertainment. Some of us might be itching to get out to the football, the pub, or the cinema. Others just want to not get sick. Restrictions are being lifted in stages to balance so that the interests and priorities of both groups, so it’s important to still follow any rules that remain in place.
Some people have thrived while working or learning from home. The opposite is also true. All those extroverts who are dead keen to get back to “normal” need to realise that any anxiety they have felt while having to stay home was actually a very real case of the shoe being on the other foot. Introverts and people who suffer from social or workplace anxiety had had something of a reprieve over the past few months and might be dreading work or school going back to the way it used to be.
Patience and consideration of others are crucial life skills for everyone. Even when the need for isolation has completely passed, we all need to be understanding of how others feel.
What Rolling Back #isolation #restrictions Means. #StayHomeStaySafe #BeKind #SocialDistancing
This article resonates deeply with me on so many levels. My mother used to quote things like this all the time, with her favourite being “Stop it! Stop it! Someone will get hurt in a minute!” My beloved mum is long gone, but this still gets quoted among our family in our best “Mum” voice on a regular basis.
The author of this post makes some really good points about how people treat one another, especially on social media where some seem to think that everything is acceptable because they are hiding behind a screen and a keyboard.
Cruelty is never okay. A joke among friends is one thing: mocking someone, making fun of them, calling names or deriding their character is a different beast altogether.
It really isn’t so hard to be kind. It really isn’t so hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and think about how they might feel.
It’s pretty basic, really, to “do to others as you would have them do to you”, but so few people seem to manage it.
In the immortal words of Maxwell Smart, “if only they used their [social media] for goodness instead of rottenness.”
Make good choices, people. Choose the positive. Choose kindness.
Remember that gem? I’m sure my parents rolled that one out a time or two when I was finally doing something active. I’ve always been risk adverse. Better safe than sorry has been my life’s mission statement.
Yeah, sometimes I think I was born old…
But I want to change this saying to fit our wonderful social media age. I think it should be ‘it’s all fun and games until we need the people we’re making fun of’.
Because as much as I like to think I don’t need people sometimes life is much easier with people. Most of the time they were people I had just met. People who were capable of empathy, capable of being decent, friendly human beings, capable of showing someone respect just because and without judgement.
I have reached a new landmark in my journey of self-acceptance and self-care: I have finally decided to stop saying and thinking horrible things about myself.
When I posted this image last night, a friend responded with the observation that ” The trick is to catch it and recognize it. That’s the hard part.”
What she says is true, but the fact is that I’ve already been recognising it, and it’s something that has been bugging me for a while.
For me, the hardest part is that I see my flaws and failures much earlier and more honestly than anyone else does. I know I’m valued and loved, and I know I have talents and abilities that others admire, but I am much quicker to comment on my mistakes and shortcomings than on anything good or positive that I might do. Sadly, this is the habit of a lifetime.
It’s often said that we’re our own worst enemies. When it comes to cruel words, I think that’s definitely true of me.
I write poetry that moves people and touches their souls. I write horror stories that chill my readers to the bone. My books get good reviews, and readers tell me they love my work. I teach teenagers, and from time to time, some of them tell me I’ve had a positive impact on their life.
At the same time, I know full well that not everyone loves me. That doesn’t actually bother me: I don’t like everyone else, either. None of us do. Yet it seems that my most consistent critic is none other than myself. It’s fair to say that on some days, even the people who really, really don’t like me – and they do exist – would be hard pressed to say worse things about me than I do.
Why do I accept it from myself, when I never would from anyone else? Why do I allow words about myself that I refuse to hear my best friend say about herself? I don’t allow my students to talk about themselves or others that way. I’ll unashamedly call someone out for putting another person down, and remind them that they don’t get to talk that way to other people.
I’ve written previously about having to learn to be patient and kind toward myself physically, especially since my back injury. Now, I’m taking the challenge to master the words and thoughts I use, and to be as quick to defend myself as I am when it’s others on the receiving end.
I know that making this decision is only the first step, and that actually doing it will be harder than writing about it. I do hope, though, that putting it into writing makes my commitment more binding and less of an impulsive thing that I can forget about.
This is a change that is long overdue. And no matter how flawed or prone to error I may be, it’s a change that I really need to make. I deserve better treatment than I have been giving myself, and today is the day I will start to make it happen.